Ashli Babbitt: The US veteran shot dead breaking into the Capitol

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Image source, Twitter/Ashli Babbitt
Image caption,
Ms Babbitt was a vocal supporter of President Trump

The day before she died, Ashli Babbitt wrote on social media about the upcoming gathering of Trump supporters in the US capital.

"Nothing will stop us," she wrote. "They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours."

Ms Babbitt, 35, was among the mob which breached the US Capitol on Wednesday. She has been identified by US Capitol Police as one of five people who died amid the chaos.

A veteran of the US Air Force, Ms Babbitt served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before later deployments with the National Guard to Kuwait and Qatar, her ex-husband Timothy McEntee told US media.

A native of San Diego, California, Ms Babbitt had recently remarried, and worked at a pool service company with her husband, Aaron Babbitt.

Image source, Twitter/Ashli Babbitt
Image caption,
Ms Babbitt (right) is pictured at a boat parade for President Trump, wearing a shirt with QAnon insignia

On social media, she described herself as a libertarian and a patriot. She posted frequently about President Donald Trump, expressing ardent support for the president and echoing his unproven claims of wide-scale voter fraud.

"She had a personality that you either loved or hated," Mr McEntee told NPR. "She wasn't apologetic about it... she was proud of it, just like she was proud of her country and proud to be an American."

Media caption,
Phone footage reveals chaotic scenes inside US Capitol

In September, she posted a photo from a boat parade for Mr Trump in San Diego wearing a shirt that said "We are Q" - referring to QAnon - the far-right, completely unfounded conspiracy theory that says Mr Trump is battling a clandestine war against Satan-worshipping paedophiles.

For a period, Ms Babbitt was also a supporter of President Barack Obama. In a November 2018 Twitter exchange first reported by Bellingcat, Ms Babbitt said she had voted for Mr Obama, a Democrat, calling him "our president".

"I think Obama did great things," she wrote. "I think he did do a lot of a time where we needed him."

But Ms Babbitt "could not" vote for Hillary Clinton, she said, going for Mr Trump instead.

Days before this week's demonstrations, she wrote on Twitter that she would be in Washington for Mr Trump's so-called Stop the Steal rally.

Media caption,
'Treason, traitors and thugs' - the words lawmakers used to describe Capitol riot

"I will be in DC on the 6th!" she wrote. "God bless America and WWG1WGA" - using an abbreviation common among QAnon supporters.

Her mother-in-law, Robin Babbitt, told a local Fox station that her son did not join his wife the rally.

"I really don't know why she decided to do this," she said.

In a video posted online, a woman believed to be Ashli Babbitt is seen with a Make America Great Again flag draped around her shoulders amid a crowd of rioters inside the Capitol building, attempting to get through a set of locked doors. A member of Capitol Police is seen in another video holding a gun toward the group.

Image source, Twitter/Ashli Babbitt
Image caption,
Ashli Babbitt had travelled to DC from California to attend the demonstration

The woman is then seen climbing onto a ledge next to the door. Almost immediately, a loud bang is heard and she is filmed falling to the ground.

In a statement, Capitol Police said that a United States Capitol Police employee fired their service weapon, striking an adult female "as protesters were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where Members of Congress were sheltering in place".

Ms Babbitt was admitted to hospital with a gunshot wound and died later that evening, police said. The officer who shot her has been placed on administrative leave but has not been identified.

Ms Babbitt's mother-in-law told US media that she was devastated by the news. "I'm numb," she told the New York Post. "Nobody from DC notified my son and we found out on TV."

Before moving to California, where she ran a pool supply company with family members, Ms Babbitt had worked security for a nuclear plant near Washington DC.

In 2016, while living in Maryland, she was charged with reckless endangerment after hitting another woman's car repeatedly in an incident described by authorities as "road rage". She was eventually acquitted.

Family members say that after leaving the military after 14 years, she felt newly freed to express herself on social media, where she frequently ranted against immigrants, Democrats and coronavirus safety measures.

"My sister was 35 and served 14 years — to me that's the majority of your conscious adult life," her younger brother Roger Witthoeft told the New York Times.

"If you feel like you gave the majority of your life to your country and you're not being listened to, that is a hard pill to swallow. That's why she was upset."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A woman cries at a makeshift memorial to Babbitt in Washington, where she died

Four other people died during Wednesday's riots.

Police officer Brian D Sicknick died late on Thursday after sustaining injuries while "physically engaging with protesters", a statement from Capitol Police said.

He later collapsed in his division office and was taken to hospital.

Sicknick had worked for the Capitol Police for more than 10 years and most recently worked in its first responder unit, CBS News reports.

Media caption,
When a mob stormed the US capitol

The remaining three had travelled to Washington for the demonstration and are believed to have died in separate "medical emergencies" on the grounds of the Capitol.

Benjamin Phillips, 50, organised for a group of Pennsylvanians to travel together to Washington. The night before the protest, he hosted some supporters at his apartment.

A computer-programmer, he set up a social media site for Trump supporters.

One member of the group that went to Washington told The Philadelphia Inquirer he had tried to call Phillips when it was time to leave, but a police officer picked up and told him that Phillips had died..

Also at the event was 55-year-old Kevin Greeson from Alabama. His family told in a statement that he had suffered a heart attack while in Washington.

A staunch Trump supporter, he had reportedly been active on Parler, a self-styled "free speech" social media site popular with conservatives.

Greeson's family said he was "not there to participate in violence or rioting, nor did he condone such actions".

Police also confirmed the death of Rosanne Boyland, 34, from Georgia. A statement from her brother-in-law Justin Cave said the family were still trying to figure out the details of her death.

"As we watched these awful events unfold we hoped that Roseanne was not among the crowd. Tragically she was there and it cost her life", he said.

"I've never tried to be a political person but it's my own personal belief that the president's words incited a riot that killed four of his biggest fans last night," Mr Cave told a local CBS station.